According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:4, there are three types of people in this world:
- The natural man
- The spiritual man
- The carnal man
The natural man is someone who does not know Jesus, they are spiritually dead and unable to receive the things of God. The spiritual man is a Christian who is led by the Spirit. The carnal man is also a Christian, but they are ruled by their fleshly appetites.
Carnality is the widespread crisis of the American church. Too many church members are not yielded to the Spirit, instead they follow their own whims and preferences. Are you a carnal Christian? Evaluate yourself against these biblical standards. Here are six characteristics of a carnal Christian.
- Carnal Christians have a protracted spiritual infancy (1 Cor. 3:1). Simply put, they are babies. They remain immature way too long.
- Carnal Christians are unable to feed themselves (1 Cor. 3:2a). The baby Christian relies on milk. Solid food is too difficult for them. The carnal Christian needs someone to take the meat of God's word digest it for them and break it down into milk. Typically, this happens on Sunday morning when the pastor simplifies the word of God and gives it to the people. Unfortunately, since the baby Christian cannot feed themself they have to wait seven days until their next feeding. With such infrequent spiritual meals the carnal Christian remains weak.
- Carnal Christians are sectarian (1 Cor. 3:2b-3). Like little children are prone to do, their mantra is "us against them." The carnal Christian not only plays favorites, they openly campaign for their party.
- Carnal Christians fail to reproduce (Heb. 5:12a). In the spiritual world, just as in the physical world, reproduction is only for the mature and healthy. Carnal Christians fail to disciple others.
- Carnal Christians don't know how to use their Bibles (Heb. 5:12b-13). Being unskilled in the word of righteousness they can neither feed themselves nor disciple others.
- Carnal Christians are morally dull (Heb. 5:14). Their conscience is insensitive. They don't see anything wrong with pornagraphy, drugs, alcohol, gambling, extramarital sex, or other questionable activities.
Here now are three solutions to carnality:
- Determine to love everyone. This destroys sectarianism and causes one to cry out to God for help, "Lord I cannot love this person. Please give me the ability to do what I am unable to do." Loving everyone is a spiritual discipline that lifts you out of carnal selfishness.
- Begin to disciple someone. The teacher always learns more than the pupil. You can begin to grow by helping someone in their spiritual walk.
- Chew on the meat of God's word. No one can be a good Christian who gets fed every seven days from the preacher's sermon. You have to learn to feed yourself everyday. You may wish to pray, "Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things from Your law (Ps. 119:18).
The three types of persons are seen in the experience of the Hebrews.
- Egypt is a type of the natural man in worldliness and bondage.
- The wilderness is a type of the carnal man. They are out of Egypt but Egypt is not out of them. They wander in defeat, dry and thirsty.
- The Promised Land is a type of the spiritual man. Here the believer enjoys rewards they have not earned and feasts in the land flowing with milk and honey. (Note, unlike the travels of the Israelites, Christians can revert from spiritual back into carnal.)
If you are in the desert of carnality, I encourage you to "leave the elementary principles of Christ" and cross over the Jordan River and become a spiritual person so that you can begin to "taste and see that the Lord is good."